7 Tips for Back to School Traffic Safety

Help kids get to school

Now that September is here, children have returned to school in force and that means we all have a responsibility to be more watchful on the roads. This is particularly important at times of day when children are more likely to be outside of the school ? including when school begins, lunchtime and after school. In 2004, Safe Kids Canada reported that pedestrian injury is the third highest cause of injury related death among Canadian children. Driving defensively and observing the rules helps keep everyone safe and sound. In addition, driving infractions committed in a school zone can substantially increase your car insurance rates. Offenses such as improperly passing a school bus, failure to obey a school crossing sign or speeding/passing in a school zone are considered major offences. These convictions, depending on your insurance company, can increase your insurance premiums by 15% or more for a first offence and 25% or more for subsequent offences. Here are seven important safety rules to keep in mind when driving on or around school property (as well as bus and walking routes to schools) this fall. 1. Always stop for a school bus when the lights are flashing. In Ontario alone, over 800,000 children travel by school bus every day. Children have a limited sense of danger and are often excited and energetic when getting on or off a school bus. Watch out for children who may dart out from between stopped school buses or parked cars. Don?t obstruct a school bus loading zone and be patient as children get on and off the bus. Motorists travelling in both directions are required to stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing and the stop arm is out. Failing to stop for a school bus carries with it a fine of up to $2,000 and six demerit points. 2. Observe the posted speed limits. It?s important to slow down as you approach a school zone and watch for children who may run out into harm?s way. Posted speed limits in school zones are typically either 30km/hr or 40km/hr. Travelling at a slower speed gives drivers time to stop safely in case there are children crossing the road unexpectedly. Playground zones have the same speed limits and are in effect from dawn until dusk each day Children may be out and about at various times throughout the day for recess, lunch time or field trips so you need to be careful when driving in school zones. Respect your school?s posted pick up and drop off areas to avoid creating unnecessary traffic congestion and unsafe conditions. This includes respecting ?No Parking? and ?No Stopping? zones.



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3. Obey the crossing guard at all times. Whether you think they are right or not, obey crossing guards at all times. Children expect that crossing guards will only allow them to cross if the situation is safe, so disregarding a crossing guard?s instructions can have serious consequences. 4. Do not pass other vehicles in a school zone. This is a dangerous practice that is prohibited in school zones. When passing other vehicles, you may be travelling quickly and your overall visibility is reduced. Children crossing the street won?t expect you to be passing and won?t be prepared for your car being in a different lane than usual. Similarly, you should not perform a U-turn or 3 point turn, or even driving in reverse in a school zone if you can avoid it. Any sort of unpredictable driving manoeuvre may catch children off guard and cause or contribute to an accident. 5. Avoid driving into the school parking lot. School parking lots tend to be very congested, especially at designated school pick up and drop off times. Increased traffic means an increased likelihood of accidents. It?s safer for everyone if you park across the street and use the cross walk to get to school property. 6. Expect the unexpected. Children are unpredictable and can run out into traffic at any time. Watch carefully as you approach a school zone and be prepared for children to step on to the road unexpectedly. (Added text: With many young people plugged in to their music as they walk or bike to school, we must be mindful that they are not hearing or necessarily paying enough attention to their surroundings). 7. Teach your children the rules of traffic safety and school bus etiquette. You can help keep your children safe by teaching them the rules of the road. Children should stay well away from any streets and the school parking lot while they are at school. Crossing the street only at designated cross walks, under the supervision of an adult (ideally a cross guard), is key to reduce the likelihood that your child might be hit. Be a good role model for your children by following the same rules that you would like them to follow. This helps reinforce the importance of safety rules in your son or daughter?s mind. If your child takes the school bus, teach them to respect the school bus driver. They should remain seated at all times while on the bus and refrain from distracting conduct, such as throwing things or yelling. They should line up for the school bus at least 5 steps back from the road in a single file line to wait for the bus and remain there until the bus has come to a complete stop and the doors are open before moving forward. When dismounting the bus, children should always walk (rather than run) and be careful if they need to cross the street. They should never cross between parked cars. Children are our most precious resource and keeping them safe is a priority that we can all agree on. By reinforcing good safety habits among ourselves and our children, we can help to keep them safe and sound throughout the school year. Following the basic rules for traffic safety in school zones will not only keep children safe, but has a number of added benefits. This includes maintaining a safe driving record and a clean insurance record, which will result in a lower car insurance premium when you?re searching for insurance. You can get an auto insurance quote online at to find out if your driving record should merit you a lower premium on your car insurance. Used with the kind permission of Insurance Hotline. Pack It Light. Wear it Right. It?s common for kids to lug around backpacks appearing to be twice their body weight. Though it may seem cool to sling a heavy load over one shoulder ? longterm head, neck and shoulder pain is not. Here are some helpful tips that will help your child carry their backpack with ease. Backpacks can affect your child?s health Carrying a heavy load can lead to poor posture and a distorted spinal column. Over time this can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage. A heavy backpack carried on one shoulder forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back. Choose the right backpack ? Select a lightweight backpack in vinyl or canvas. ? Pick a backpack with two wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, and padded back. ? Try the backpack for fit and comfort ? ensure it?s not too snug around the shoulders and armpits, and that it?s proportionate to the wearer?s body type. Used with the kind permission of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. For more information on back safety or to find a chiropractor in your area please visit One more helpful size guideline: The backpack should be no wider than the child?s shoulders, and no taller than the child?s shoulders when sitting.


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Packing it properly ? Your child?s backpack should only contain what is needed for that day.

Stop,Look,and Listen

? A full backpack should be no more than 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer?s body weight. Motorists DO NOT proceed through the crosswalk until the ? Place the heaviest objects close to the body and light or odd-shaped objects away from the back. children and the crossing guard have cleared the roadway. Putting the backpack on As amotorist, you MUST STOP before reaching acrosswalk when the crossing guard has their stop sign in an upright position. Pay ? Place the backpack on a flat surface and slip on the backpack one shoulder at a time, adjust the straps to fit comfortably. attention. ? When lifting the backpack use both arms and legs, and bend at the knees - give young children a hand. Do not use cell phones or other devices while driving while driving through school zones Wearing a backpack through school zones. and ? Backpacks should never be worn over only one shoulder ? this can result in neck, shoulder and back pain. Be courteous, attentive and obey at all school crossings ? Both shoulder straps should be used and adjusted so the backpack sits flush against the back. the crossing guard atall school crossings. Obey Obey speed speed limits and limits comand community safety zones ? Test the fit of the backpack by sliding your hand between the backpack and your child?s back ? if you can?t slide your hand in, the backpackzones is too snug. all times at all times.

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Let?s Keep our Children Safe!

Padded shoulder straps Chest/waist belt backpack max weight - 15% of total body weight Wide shoulder straps Straps adjustable Back pack is not wider than child?s shoulders and not taller than child?s shoulders when sitting

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